There is no reason to change Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula of governance, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on a rare visit to the global financial hub after swearing in the city’s new leader, John Lee.
Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, with Beijing promising wide-ranging autonomy, unfettered individual rights and judicial independence at least until 2047.
Xi said the “one country, two systems” formula was successful under China’s “comprehensive jurisdiction”.
“For this kind of good system, there is no reason at all to change it. It must be maintained over the long term,” Xi said.
Earlier in the day, the president swore in Hong Kong’s former security chief Lee as the city’s new chief executive, as well as the principal officials of the sixth-term government.
Speaking after he was sworn in, Lee said the rule of law is a fundamental value for Hong Kong and that a national security law imposed on the city in 2020 has brought stability after anti-government protests in 2019.
Authorities deployed a massive security force, blocking roads and the airspace around the picturesque Victoria Harbour, where the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, tearfully handed Hong Kong back to China at a rain-drenched ceremony in 1997.
Red lanterns, Chinese and Hong Kong flags, and posters declaring a “new era” of stability decorated districts across the city.
Xi did not attend the traditional flag-raising ceremonies yesterday, with media reporting he stayed overnight across the border in Shenzhen after arriving in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Xi’s visit to Hong Kong is his first since 2017, when he swore in outgoing leader Carrie Lam and stayed in the city for the duration of his trip.
His overnight whereabouts this time, and the reasons why he may have chosen Shenzhen, have not been officially confirmed.
Hong Kong recorded more than 2,000 daily Covid-19 cases on Thursday, levels which would prompt tight restrictions in any mainland city.
China is alone among major countries in choosing to eliminate outbreaks as soon as they occur, at all costs. — Reuters/Xinhua